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Wednesday
Mar282012

The Lonesome Death Of Trayvon Martin

 

I came home from an amazing Speak Out event about Trayvon Martin's killing at Glide (the incredible church I sing at) and knew it was time to sing this. It's based on a tune by Bob Dylan called The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, which is simply one of the greatest songs ever written, sociopolitical or otherwise. I couldn't ignore the sad symmetry between that awful tale and this one, decades later, still so similar. I kept as many of the lyrics intact as I could. As with Dylan's tune, all the details I included are based on verified news reports.

The video is verified, unedited footage of George Zimmerman arriving at the police station after stalking and killing Trayvon Martin. After he called in and told the police he was following Trayvon (and they told him not to follow him), he then shot him point-blank and admitted it, saying it was self-defense. Zimmerman claims that Trayvon had punched him in the face, bloodied his nose and slammed his head head on the ground repeatedly. Some things to think about:

- Can you see any signs of an altercation looking at these tapes? I can't. 
- Please listen to the call Zimmerman made (and bear in mind that he made over 40 911 calls in the recent past). Listen to his voice, his description of Trayvon. Does he sound rational and sober. Does his account od Trayvon heading towards him, then turning and running, make sense?
- Please listen to the 911 calls on which you can hear someone screaming for help. Does that sounds like someone beaing beaten up, or someone begging for their life because there's a gun pointed at them?
- Note that Zimmerman was arrested for assault on a police officer and cited twice for domestic violence. All of those cases were closed for some reason. 
- Note that Zimmerman's dad is a retired judge. 

I have no interest in characterizing George Zimmerman beyond sharing information that would be pertinent to figuring out what happened that night. I don't care what race he is, nor do I care if he's a racist. I think the real story (and the real racism) here is this: Why did the Sanford police let George Zimmerman go that night, after he'd admitted to killing Travon Martin, with no drug testing, despite a story that just makes no sense given all this information? If it were a dark-skinned young man named Trayvon Martin who'd just admitted to shooting a light-skinned young man named George Zimmerman, do you think he would have been let go that easily?

Trayvon's Martin's death is an unspeakable tragedy. Imagine if that were your son, brother, friend. Feel it. Let's at least learn from this horrible situation, be honest with each other, with ourselves. Let's be honest about guns, about race and privilege, about our fear of young black men, about all the many things this tragedy brings up. Let's start by focusing on and fixing the corruption and/or incompetence of the Sanford police and justice system -- and by taking a serious look at ourselves and the racism that still hurts us all in ways we can't even comprehend.

Please feel free to share all of this in any way you like. If you want to download the tune, you can pay as much you like, safely and securely. Any money generated will go directly to Trayvon's family, of course. Mostly, just please speak up in every way you can.  

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The Lonesome Death Of Trayvon Martin

-----------
C          Am            Em
George Zimmerman killed poor Trayvon Martin 
With a gun that he carried as a neighborhood watchman
In a gated community in Sanford, Florida 
And the cops was called in to see what had happened
And they rode him in custody down to the station 
And asked him some questions and wrote down the answers
    F   G   C            Am           F    G        C
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take your hands away from your face. Now ain't the time for your tears.

 

George Zimmerman, who at twenty-eight years
Has a dad who's a judge who keeps speaking for him
And over the years, he's tried to protect him
With his high court relations in the politics of Florida,
Like when his son fought drunk with policemen
Or when he was noticed for concerns about safety
Ignored that and told stories, and his tongue it was snarling,
About what Trayvon did, and why he deserved it
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take your hands away from your face. Now ain't the time for your tears.


Trayvon Martin was a young man in high school
On his way from the store with a drink and some Skittles
Like so many kids, sure, he'd been in some trouble
And like so many kids, he liked to wear hoodies
And watch games with his family and learn how to grow up
In a country that fears him and still tries to enslave him
By painting a picture of an angry young black man
And then shot in the chest by a gun at point-blank range 
That echoed through the streets of the small, quiet neighborhood
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And he never did anything to George Zimmerman
And you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take your hands away from your face. Now ain't the time for your tears.


On the night of the shooting, the cops questioned Zimmerman
To show that all's equal and that the police are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the light-skinned get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom,
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way without warnin'
And the cops in their uniforms, most deep and distinguished,
After asking their questions most seriously decided
To let Zimmerman free on his weird, flimsy story
With no alcohol tests or arrests or, well, anything
Just let him walk free so he could keep self-defending
While poor Trayvon Martin was cold, dead and stiffening
Oh, so you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Bury your face deep in your hands, for now's the time for your tears.
======
ps - Truly weird trivia: Bob Dylan's real name is Robert Zimmerman -- the same as George Zimmerman's dad.

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